SOURCE: The Organic Center

January 30, 2007 15:48 ET

Animal Cloning Benefits: All Sizzle and No Steak for Consumers?

Critical Issue Report Says Superior Products Already Exist Naturally

FOSTER, RI -- (MARKET WIRE) -- January 30, 2007 -- The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) draft risk assessment that meat and milk from cloned animals are safe for human and animal consumption does not give consumers the big picture when it comes to the impact of animal cloning, according to a critical issue report released by The Organic Center.

The 22-page report, "Is the FDA's Cloning Proposal Ready for Prime Time?," delves deeper into the technology background, safety and food quality issues, animal health effects, labeling and economic impact of what the FDA has proposed. One of the arguments made in the FDA assessment is that clones are "virtually indistinguishable" from normal progeny and therefore may enter the food supply.

"Virtually indistinguishable is not a scientific standard," says Jim Riddle, organic outreach coordinator at the University of Minnesota, and author of The Organic Center critical issue report on animal cloning. "The FDA report shows that subtle changes occur in the 4 to 7 percent of animals that survive the cloning process and appear to be similar to other animals. The public is not likely to accept similarity of appearance as the decisive food safety hurdle standing between animal clones and the American food supply."

The Center's critical issue report highlights the other side of the animal cloning debate that many consumers will not hear from FDA or biotech officials.

For example, FDA officials say labeling cloned meat and milk is not necessary, only requiring products to be labeled if they might be misleading, or for nutritional purposes. Riddle outlines six reasons why labeling is essential. Sustaining consumer confidence in the food system is just one reason but there are more, including preventing entry of cloned animals or their progeny and products into the organic food system.

"Animal cloning is not allowed for organic production under the USDA National Organic Program for several reasons," says Riddle, former chair of the USDA National Organic Standards Board. "Since cloning relies on cell fusion, it is explicitly prohibited in organic production. Clearly, cloning is not possible under natural conditions."

Riddle says the presence of unregulated and unlabeled meat and milk from cloned animals will help further differentiate organic products from unsegregated conventional livestock products and will almost certainly increase demand for organic meat and animal products.

"There is no shortage of meat or milk in the United States," says Riddle. "And there is no shortage of highly productive breeds and lines of livestock. Cloning offers no advantages for consumers. Research shows that milk and meat from pastured animals is consistently higher in nutrients, so if consumers want superior products, they should buy meat and milk from organic and grass-fed animals."

Currently, no other country has approved food from cloned animals. The Center predicts that the introduction of cloning has the potential to seriously diminish consumer confidence in U.S. animal products, will likely depress domestic and export markets for conventional livestock products, and will accelerate the domestic and export sales of organic livestock products.

With the April 2 deadline looming, Americans still have an opportunity to voice their concerns regarding the FDA's recommendation for incorporating cloned animals into the national food supply. Go to for the FDA comments link and to download a free copy of The Organic Center critical issue report on animal cloning.

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